To be honest, SLY 2: BAND OF THIEVES has been one of my most anticipated games of the year. Sucker Punch's first entry was amazing in its amazingly fun gameplay, beautiful world, and straight out addictive gameplay. While the first game had many linear elements, Sucker Punch has gone to great lengths to open the gameplay up. The result launches SLY 2 into the list of my favorite games of the year.
The biggest change to the SLY series is that now gamers have control of all three characters in the game. Hippo Murray and Turtle Bentley are ready to help Sly in his quest. Murphy is more of the straight on jump into a fight kind of guy, while Bently is the demolitions expert (which also makes him useful in a fight).
The game revolves around Sly tracking down the stolen Clockwerk pieces that have been stolen. The pieces are spread out though, and each one requires a fairly significant heist to acquire. The game is also much more open this time around.
One of the biggest complaints about the first SLY COOPER was that it was very easy to quickly blow through the linear game, find all of the hidden items on the path, and unlock everything. Some gamers look at SLY 2 as a chance to demonstrate that ability, but I have to say not so fast my friends. Now each level of SLY is a massive city area, and the objectives require you to sneak through the city to the different objective points.
The objectives require you to do certain things like figure out puzzles, snap pictures of things, pick pockets, or destroy certain objects. All of this is relatively simple in the game world. What makes Sly stand out is there are lots of ways to complete these objectives, and even lots of ways to get through the city. While some gamers prefer to leap across rooftops, others might find the street and its tables to hide under more to their liking.
In the meantime, the game moves fluidly. The controls are dead on and super responsive and it makes it a joy to leap across the streets, smash antennas for gold, and sneak around the level.
The bottles with parts of the code are back but they are a lot harder to find this time as the levels are so big and have so many nooks and crannies. Whereas in the first game I felt like I had to get them because it was easy, this game actually presents them as a challenge.
There are a few other caveats including the black market. You can steal artwork on various missions and if you can get the artwork and then complete the mission and return to the safe house, you'll be able to sell it for extra gold. The gold comes in handy as there are plenty of different things to buy with it this time around.
Sly is still a game that revolves around stealth though the Hippo missions can involve much more force, generally Sly has to avoid guards rather than tip them off. At times it has that METAL GEAR SOLID feel, but then again, the game presents some levels that need lots of force. There is a good mix.
The one other element that just makes this game so damn fun to play is the heist movie feel. Everyone loves a great heist movie where all of the preparation elements finally come together for the ultimate moment when the items are stolen. SLY 2: BAND OF THIEVES gives gamers that moment. You spend this time completing objectives that I'm sure most gamers have done before, but at the same time, they're fun because of the world you're in and because they have relevance to your ultimate objective.
I haven't had this much fun playing a game in a few months, and I couldn't put SLY 2 down when I first got my hands on the preview build a while back and the reviewable made it even better. My girlfriend adores this game the unique visual style is perfect for anyone who doesn't usual play games. Young, old, male, female, hardcore and casual alike will love this title.
The graphical style of SLY 2 is one of its most impressive aspects. Carried over from the original SLY COOPER game, the art style is cartoon-like and fluid. In fact, it's amazingly fluid and looks like you're watching a beautifully rendered cartoon. It's just a pleasure to look at. The characters are colorful, the levels beautifully designed, and the game just screams "Look at me, I'm beautiful."
The sound is similar to the first game, lots of the same sound effects return, there's a great score. There's not as much to say here, except that it fits the game well and it goes with the game.
Out of all of the sophomore efforts from the RATCHET, JAK, and SLY series, SLY 2 might be the best of the three second games (of course, I'm hard pressed to call it better than RATCHET AND CLANK: GOING COMMANDO our 2003 PS2 Game of the Year). The fact that I'm comparing it to such a high class of game is no coincidence: this is an amazing title. I haven't played FABLE yet, but with SLY 2: BAND OF THIEVES, you just might not care.